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DTED (or Digital Terrain Elevation Data) was originally developed in the 1970s to support aircraft radar simulation and prediction.

DTED supports many applications, including line-of-sight analyses, terrain profiling, 3-D terrain visualization, mission planning/rehearsal, and modelling and simulation. DTED is a standard NGA product that provides medium resolution, quantitative data in a digital format for military system applications that require terrain elevation.

The DTED format for level 0, 1 and 2 is described in U.S. Military Specification Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) MIL-PRF-89020B, and amongst other parameters describes the resolution for each level:

In addition three more levels (3, 4 and 5) at increasing resolution have been proposed, but not yet standardized.